Parents do their best to protect their children from various hazards, ensuring that they are put in the safe environments. However, adults tend to focus on physical safety and fail to pay attention to the vulnerability of children’s identity. Millions of people are regularly attacked online, and their personal information is compromised. Only in the USA, about 1 in 40 children are affected by identity theft.
This kind of crimes is committed in order to get access to bank accounts and credit cards. Even though the information belongs to children, their information can be used to rent an apartment or take out major loans. Children’s names can be used to commit other crimes as well, which may affect their future adversely. For instance, they can be haunted by police or governmental bodies, which will make it impossible to get loans, obtain a desired job, or house. Thus, it cannot be denied that there is a necessity to take particular steps to protect them.
Social Security number is provided to every individual in the USA, and it often turns into a target of thieves. Using it, they obtain an opportunity to create a new identity that can be then used to commit inappropriate activities. They can open new credit accounts or rack up debts. Even though these processes are not usually maintained for people who are at least 18 years old, hackers are able to overcome this issue through the cracks. It is not a problem for identity thieves to change the information related to age so every kid can be in danger.
In order to prevent this theft, parents should place their children’s Social Security number in a safe place. Even if it is convenient to have it in a wallet, it is better to protect it. What is more, if there is a necessity to mail those documents that include this information, a secure mailbox should be used instead of an ordinary one. Of course, Social Security number should not be shared with other people if there is an opportunity to avoid it. In many cases, there is an opportunity to resort to an alternative identifying number. Thus, if parents should ask for additional options if extracurricular groups ask for Social Security number. What is more, typically they are needed only in case of tax implications, which means that parents can avoid sharing them in ordinary situations.
A lot of parents do not know what information can be provided to the third parties and what should remain secret. For instance, the majority of them feel comfortable when sharing with others child’s full name, address, and date of birth. However, even this information can be used for an identity thief. Thus, adults are encouraged to minimalize the personal information uploaded on social media. They also should sign up only for those accounts they find useful. Such things as magazines and flier programs should be avoided. They are often used to sell information to marketers, which means that children can be reached through them.
An identity theft can be maintained in various locations, for instance, at doctors’ offices or at school. A receptionist always gather’s personal details before the provision of health services because it deals with insurance and related elements. Thieves are aware of this fact and come to this place in order to listen for this information so that they can approach at least some part of it. Knowing a limited amount of data they already can access the rest of it. Sending children to educational establishments, parents provide the administration with their individual information because it is an ordinary practice. However, they should also remember that there is an opportunity to avoid it. “Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, parents have the ability to opt out of that information sharing” (Lee, 2016, para. 14). Unfortunately, in many cases, parents are not aware of this right at all.
Those documents that consist of child’s personal information should be hidden. It deals not only with Social Security numbers, but also with birth certificates or passports. The representatives of the general public find it difficult to believe that identity thefts can be conducted by family members. That is why they feel free to share this information with them or with other parties in their presence. However, according to the statistics, identity thefts are more often conducted by those thieves who know their victims, as they believe that they can commit a crime and hide this fact without the child ever knowing. Some of them also believe that they use children’s money to benefit them and to take care of them, which is not a theft at all.
Parents should maintain a role of an advocate. They should not be afraid to ask organization about the ways they store, protect and dispose data. This step is vital because may small businesses or new companies fail to secure their data appropriately, considering this practice to be too costly. Parents should make sure that organizations use encrypted data, provide privacy training, and limit access to personal information.
Adults should be aware of all possible suspicious activity maintained with their personal information or with the personal information of their children. They should take care of preapproved credit cards, unknown bills, or medical collection notices. Attention should also be paid to the calls from creditors and notices about unpaid taxes. A parent should make sure that their children do not have a financial account until they create one. Dealing with a rejection for poor credit history, they should contact the police because if the high possibility of identity theft. It is vital to check existing information regularly because criminals tend to make insignificant changes trying to find out if someone cares about the account or it can be used for their purposes.
It is also important for people who take care of children to educate them regarding the necessity to maintain privacy. They should get to know that private information can be shared only with trustworthy parties and should not be mentioned on websites, for example. Third-party sites used to download various files should also be avoided. Children should be explained how to use privacy settings on social networks because their usage can hardly be avoided nowadays.
Thinking of theft, the majority of people associate it with the police, which is a right step to cope with this issue. However, it will also be beneficial to resort to credit-reporting agencies, such as Equifax, Experian and the TransUnion, because they can provide “credit reports on your child’s Social Security number” (Lee, 2016, para. 36). These agencies respond parents in all cases, even if there are no credit transactions.
A lot of professionals who often deal with the issue of children’s theft identity encourage adults to maintain annual checks on credit reports. As a result, even if something wrong happens, there will be a possibility to overcome this situation and correct a mistake before it prevents a child from getting a good job or a loan for a tan important thing.
A lot of attention should also be paid to medical theft, which provides criminals with an opportunity to obtain various drugs or to change them for expensive services. This point is critical because such operations are rarely included in a credit report. Parents should realize that some issue exists and look for assistance if they notice unfamiliar visits or treatments, reach their benefit limit unexpectedly, are denied insurance, have those diseases and conditions they do actually have.
Finally, it is important for parents to take action as soon as they acknowledge that their child’s identity is stolen. First of all, they are expected to contact the local police. For the case to be appropriately discussed, they should bring various evidence. For example, they can use credit card bills or related notices. They should file a complaint and inform creditors about the fraudulent activity that was maintained recently. As a result, they also have an opportunity to ask the credit bureaus to clean child’s record because he/she did not actually do anything wrong. At least three credit-reporting agencies should be approached for the investigation to be initiated. It is also beneficial to freeze child’s credit report, for instance. In this way, the access to the child’s credit can be limited even more. This option is not costly at all, but it is believed to be one of the most effective ways to prevent and deal with identity thefts.
Lee, D. (2016). 9 ways to combat child identity theft. Web.